Mining for Insight in a decade’s worth of RSA Conference Abstracts

Imagine for a moment that you had access to 15,000 Call-for-Paper (CFP) abstracts from ten years of the largest cybersecurity conference in the world — what would you want to know?

Well, that’s exactly the position we found ourselves in when the RSA Conference organizers broached the idea of this research with us. As you might guess, no arm twisting was involved to get us onboard for this one. This was especially fun because it adds another chapter to a story that began a few years ago when my daughter asked “What’s the RSA Conference about, Daddy?” That question then prompted a four-part blog series and a star-studded panel discussion (myself not included). After all that, an honest-to-goodness research report with all the bells a whistles was the logical next step. And it’s a deceptively large step up because those previous chapters analyzed accepted presentation titles only; this report mines the “long abstracts” from all CFP submissions (accepted or not). Did we unearth anything valuable from all that data? We think so, and the RSA Conference folks do too (hence the name ‘Striking Security Gold‘).

We don’t want to spoil the fun of reading the whole report, but below you’ll find a topical cluster diagram featured in the report. Topics shown in close proximity often occur together in an abstract, while those farther apart rarely do. For instance, many sessions cover both ransomware and extortion, but you are very unlikely to attend an RSA Conference talk on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and forced browsing. If you think about what it represents—10 years of topics at our industry’s largest conference and how they interrelate—it’s quite fascinating. Click the image to the right for a full-size view. But don’t dillydally too long…there’s a lot more gold hidden in the full report. Buy us a drink if you strike it rich, ok?

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